The European Commission has declared today the official start of operations by EGNOS, the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service, with its Open Service now available for free to businesses and citizens. EGNOS is Europe’s first contribution to satellite navigation and a precursor of Galileo, the global satellite navigation system that the European Union is developing. Antonio Tajani, Vice-President for Transport, said: « What we are doing today opens the door for European businesses and citizens to benefit from the myriad of better applications and new opportunities made possible by more precise navigation signals. We are laying the foundation stone of a very imminent future. » EGNOS is a satellite-based augmentation system that improves the accuracy of satellite navigation signals over Europe. The accuracy of current GPS signals is improved from about ten metres to two metres. Both European businesses and citizens can greatly benefit from EGNOS. It can support new applications in a number of different sectors such as agriculture, like high-precision spraying of fertilisers, or transport, like automatic road-tolling or pay-per-use insurance schemes. EGNOS can also support much more precise personal navigation services, both for general and specific uses, for example systems to guide blind people EGNOS will be certified for use in aviation and other safety-critical areas in compliance with the Single European Sky regulation. Through EGNOS a Safety-of-Life service is expected to be in place by mid 2010.
This service will provide a valuable warning message informing the user within six seconds in case of a malfunction of the system. A Commercial Service is under test and will also be made available in 2010. Both the Open Service and the Safety-of-Life Service are provided free of charge, and the European Union is committed to supporting EGNOS for the long term, even after Galileo has become operational. This includes extending its geographical scope within the coverage of the three satellites involved. The operations of EGNOS are managed, through a contract with the European Commission, by the European Satellite Services Provider, ESSP SaS, a company based in Toulouse, France, founded by seven air navigation services providers. The contract between the Commission and ESSP SaS was signed yesterday, 30 September, and will ensure the management of the EGNOS operations as well as the maintenance of the system until the end of 2013.
Background: EGNOS is composed of transponders aboard three geostationary satellites and a ground network of about 40 positioning stations and four control centres, all interconnected. The EGNOS coverage area includes most European states and has the built-in capability to be extended to other regions, such as North Africa and EU neighbouring countries. The EGNOS Open Service is accessible, without service guarantee or resulting liability, to any user equipped with a GPS/SBAS compatible receiver within the EGNOS coverage area. Most receivers sold today in Europe meet that requirement. No authorisation or receiver-specific certification is required. EGNOS was developed by European industries, the EOIG (EGNOS Operator and Infrastructure Group) with the support of the European Commission (EC), the European Space Agency (ESA) and Eurocontrol. Since April 1, EGNOS is owned and managed by the European Union while the European Space Agency; who led the design and development of the system, is now the design and procurement agent through a delegation agreement with the European Commission.